I’ve played zombie games, base management simulators, and delved into real-time strategy now and again. They Are Billions takes these three simple elements, tosses them into a pot, and serves unsuspecting fans one of the most ridiculously simple and fun games I’ve had the pleasure of playing in some time.
Zombies! The world has been overrun by billions of the undead and you stand on one of the last precipices of human civilization. This small outpost is under your management with a few soldiers to get started with and to start building a fully functioning city. There’s no friendly tutorial to hold your hand and walk you through the motions of managing and building this steampunk and Victorian style metropolis.
For me, it felt like being handed a giant box of Legos and told there were absolutely no limits on what I could build. In this way They Are Billions is really a toy box of surprises that, even after I’d invested hours, still left me dreaming up strategies and builds to protect my city from the army of the undead horde.
Everything starts out pretty basic, build a sawmill to gather wood and maybe throw down a hunter’s cottage or a fisherman’s wharf to gather food. You need people working at these places though, right? It’s in your best interest to build tents for people to live in and eventually a military school to have an army available to combat hungry zombies bearing down on the city. As you progress you can upgrade these tents to actual houses, build stronger defenses, and eventually move up to being a self-sustaining colony.
As you progress the needs of the colony start to increase to the point where resources and space start to come at a premium. You’ll need a power plant for the increase in population to have more soldiers on the front lines, but there’s no more space behind the walls. Do you spend the resources to expand and clear out a nearby horde? Or maybe delete a few houses hoping it will all work out? Resource management alone felt like a mini-game with the constant fight to meet prerequisites of building better defenses for the town to figuring out how to organize the mishmash of buildings under my command.
Getting those higher tiers feels like an accomplishment too, but are served up in delightful bite sized chunks. Within two hours I’d figured out the majority of the buildings and units on hand, only lacking the resources to build most of them. When the final toll came for my town to be put to the test I lost epically. There’s nothing quite like seeing hours of hard work torn apart by thousands of zombies streaming in to dismantle everything I built up. And you know what? I ENJOYED losing; I even cackled in delight watching my town being overrun with zombies. It reminded of the days where I would play Jurassic Park Genesis and unleash my velociraptors and T. Rex on the park visitors.
I’m not the best when it comes to real-time strategy situations, but They Are Billions managed to hit all the right notes of a zombie-based survival simulator and is simply a blast to play. The campaigns are short but surprisingly sweet, at no point did it feel like a typical resource grind to nowhere. You’ll be engaged from beginning to end, though expect to feel helpless as billions of zombies come to tear your civilization apart. The best part is that you’ll probably enjoy every minute, and come back for more. Just like the zombies!